Our friend Kendall asked us if we wanted to help him move – but this wasn’t any move. This was helping him move two, 50-foot catamarans from San Pedro, Belize to Roatan, Honduras. Of course, our answer was a resounding “YES!!!!”.
We were so excited for 2 reasons:
1) We love sailing.
2) This would be our very first, overnight crossing.
The dates were set for our departure from San Pedro: Sunday, April 23, 2017.
There were 2, 50-foot catamarans that were being moved: Infinity and Impromptu. Each sailboat had a captain and a first mate and several guests/deck hands. We were assigned to the Infinity. Our Captain was Charlie and First Mate was Eric. In addition to the professionals, there were 5 other friends on the boat with us and their sailing experience ranged from some to none.
Here is our tale of our very first, but not last overnight crossing!
The morning of April 23 we were to all arrive at the dock by 11:00 am for a 12:00 departure. We arrived early and were able to help Brittney load up and store all of the provisions. We were so lucky that Brittney offered to not only plan the menu but also purchase all of the provisions!
Thank you so much Brittney!
We always find that the menu planning and shopping is one of the most difficult parts of a sailing excursion. As well as playing the game of, “Where do we store all of this food?”
We found the perfect spot to store all of the pineapples –
Is everyone ready to go sailing?
We had a total of 9 people on our boat: Captain Charlie, Eric and Brittney, Heather and Kevin, Kaitlin and David and us. We boarded the boat, unpacked our bags and were ready to go sailing! We got a little later start than planned (imagine that – trying to herd a total of 15 “cats” onto two catamarans on an island took longer than expected!) so the first day we sailed from San Pedro to Turneffe Atoll.
At around 2:00 we sailed away from San Pedro –
And our adventure had officially begun!
Not too long after our departure, we were already digging into a 7-layer dip – yum!
Did you know there is a proper way to eat a 7-layer dip?
We were not up on 7-layer dip eating etiquette and Ronnie got scolded by the chef. What’s the proper way you ask? When you place your chip into the dip you must scoop all the way down to the bottom of the pan so you get every layer on your chip.
Ronnie fished along the way and caught a barracuda –
He tossed the fish into the dinghy for safekeeping until it could be filleted for dinner.
Should we have kept it on ice and not in the hot sun? Probably.
But we needed to save all of our ice to keep our food and drinks cold!
Somebody who was not fishing got creative with the vegetables. “I spy with my little eye……”
About halfway to Turneffe, we were treated to a pod of over 50 spinner dolphins playing and jumping around our boat.
Here is Kaitlin trying to grab one –
They played around the boat for over 20 minutes – it was quite a show!
After about 4 hours, we reached our anchorage spot for the night. Just in time to anchor as the sun was setting. Both boats tied up to eachother for the night so we could have dinner together.
Brittney cooked chicken enchiladas for dinner and Jack filleted and baked the fresh barracuda. It was all so delicious!
We are positive that the bench on the dinghy was cleaned thoroughly prior to it being used as a cutting board, right???
This little yellow bird decided to join us for the night as well –
Apparently, he was tired and needed a nice, safe place to rest.
We were all tired and made it an early night.
Morning comes early when you’re sleeping on a catamaran….pretty sure everyone was up and breakfast was finished by 7:30. Brittney made biscuits and gravy!
Some of us even took the time to shower – which when you’re on a sailboat means swimming off of the back of the boat with shower gel finished by a freshwater rinse on the back!
Here we are “showering”…
And yes, shower gel does burn if it gets in your eyes.
Before we knew it, we were on the move – sailing to Half Moon Caye. The water couldn’t have been any clearer.
Charlie was a master at steering with his foot –
Remember our yellow bird friend who camped out? Well, apparently he wanted a ride all the way to Half Moon Caye –
Guess he figured why fly when he can ride in luxury.
Here we are on the bow as we approached Half Moon Caye.
We arrived later than the other boat, and they had already docked.
As soon as we dropped anchor we took the dinghy over to the island and went exploring. Click here to read all about our 24 hours on and around Half Moon Caye which included boobie birds and snorkeling the Blue Hole and The Wall at Half Moon Caye!
After our fun 24 hours at Half Moon Caye, it was time to begin our 20 hour overnight, ocean crossing. Since this was our very first one, we had no idea what to expect.
And now, we present to you the ocean crossing!
As we started making our way towards Roatan, the wind picked up and the waves increased in size. We were heading into them which made the crossing much rougher than if we were going with them.
Here is the Impromptu as we began the crossing –
Notice our half-inflated dinghy on the back?
We decided that if for some reason, our catamaran started to take on water, we would opt to stay on the boat as opposed to hopping in that lifeboat.
The waves began splashing over the front of the catamaran and we all gathered around the cockpit to stay dry and watch the sunset. Most people, with the exception of us and the professionals, were already feeling queasy. So we played the “Watch for the green flash game” which turned out to be a great 45-minute distraction from the waves. And no, we did not see the green flash at any point during the sunset. (We still say it does not exist!)
We had a long, exciting night ahead of us!
As night fell, the waves grew and the wind picked up…..we had waves crashing over the bow of the 50-foot catamaran.
To say it was rough would be an understatement. It was really, really, really difficult to walk inside of the salon – one wave was so big it knocked Heather down and she fell right on her butt.
(We all chuckled….just a little bit.)
Before the crossing, Eric made dinner – chicken with fresh pineapple and rice. Kaitlin took on the task of reheating the food and serving it….she was a champ working in the kitchen with all of the rocking and bouncing. Kaitlin served us the dinner in plastic cups – which was genius because there was no way the food would have stayed on a regular plate.
After dinner, Captain Charlie took the first shift driving and then Eric took over a couple hours later.
All of the girls curled up around the table in the outside cockpit……it was windy, wavy and splashy. We covered up with blankets to stay warm.
Why didn’t we sleep inside where it was dry and warm?
Well, because the minute you walked inside of the salon, seasickness would hit you like a ton of bricks. And, it was pretty much impossible to walk around.
Oh yes, and also the smell of rotting chicken…..that definitely didn’t help with the uneasy stomach situation. That’s right, we forgot to toss out the raw chicken scraps from earlier in the day…and with the heat, those scraps turned into the most foul, or should we say “fowl”, smelling pile of meat that has ever existed. Thanks to Kevin for tossing out the rank, rotting chicken scraps!
Most of the waves crashed up and over the boat and we just got splashed, but one wave crashed over the boat and went into the cockpit where we were all sleeping.
Nothing like being awakened by a wall of water when you are half-asleep!
The giant wave crashed directly on top of Brittney and something hit her in the head….she thought Lisa kicked her…..but in the morning we discovered what it really was!
Brittney and Lisa hopped up to escape the pool of water they were now sitting in and Ronnie shouted, “Wait! Don’t make any sudden movements!”
Another humongous wave hit and we heard a cacophony of crashing coming from inside of the salon – oops. Before starting the crossing we didn’t secure any of the liquor bottles or coffee cups. All of the bottles and cups went crashing down onto the floor!
Luckily, the only thing that broke was one coffee cup. During the chaos, David stepped on the broken cup and sliced his big toe. That was the only injury until David walked past the plastic garbage bag that the broken cup was in and the shards stuck through and stabbed him in the leg.
Coffee Cup Vengence!
After all of that excitement, we settled back into our spots.
Eric was driving and Ronnie was keeping watch. Eric saw lights in the distance….or what looked to be in the distance….but at night, on the open seas, your eyes can play tricks on you. Ronnie and Eric couldn’t decipher if it was a cruise ship in the distance or a giant buoy with a light on it that we were about to run into. Ronnie and Eric thought for sure it was a buoy they were about to hit and Eric turned the boat to avoid it…..but It turned out to be a cruise ship passing in the opposite direction. Whew! Another exciting moment!
Here is the only picture we were able to take during the night crossing –
When the wake from the cruise ship reached us it had to have been 20 feet tall – When we looked to the side, all we could see was a wall of water. But the Infinity handled it well.
A little while later Charlie and Eric decided it was time to pull in the jib – the winds were too strong and the catamaran was definitely getting a beating. Eric tried to release the jib to roll it up, but there was just too much tension and the pin sheared off……we were all awoken by the sudden and explosive sounds of lines whipping around and the giant sail flapping loose. To say that these noises were loud and startling is an understatement.
This noise would have woken the dead!
Without hesitation (and without life jackets) Charlie and Eric rushed to the front of the catamaran to secure the jib. Keep in mind it was the middle of the night, high winds, rough seas…..when Eric ran up to help, he went to jump on one of the trampolines……that USED to be there.
That’s right, the trampoline had been damaged from the beating waves and was dangling in the water.
When Eric realized that the trampoline he was jumping towards was no longer there, he miraculously changed his direction of flight in mid-air (like a cat going after a fleeing bird) and was able to grab a cable to keep him on the boat. If he wouldn’t have grabbed that line, he would have fallen straight down into the unforgiving sea and we probably would never have seen him again.
Tom Cruise could NOT have executed this stunt any better!
Charlie and Eric were able to secure the jib while Brittney kept the boat stable and Ronnie and Kevin helped secure lines from the safety of the cockpit.
All secure and back on course, Charlie and Eric went inside the salon to get some much-needed sleep and Ronnie took over the helm. He drove for about 3 hours and then Kevin took over in the hours just before dawn.
As the seas calmed and the sun rose we all began to wake up….yes, we were all still curled up on the benches around the table in the cockpit.
We were all so thankful to see this sunrise and feel the calm seas.
Looking at this peaceful sunrise it’s hard to imagine the turbulent night we all went through.
Daylight shed light on the aftermath.
Overnight aftermath: 1 toe injury, 1 broken trampoline, 1 ripped jib and 1 dead fish
David’s toe injury –
The damaged trampoline and jib –
And the dead fish –
We determined that it was more likely that Brittney was hit in the head by this flying fish rather than being kicked in the head by Lisa earlier in the night. (Or at least that is Lisa’s story and she is sticking to it!)
Another bird decided to hitch a ride –
As we sailed into Roatan, we were all excited to see land – we made it!
David and Kaitlin –
“Everything’s Ok!” from Captain Charlie –
A pilot boat guided us into the boat’s new home at Barefoot Cay Marina.
This was such an unforgettable, unbelievable and unimaginable adventure! We cannot thank Kendall and Eric Beymer of Ecologic Adventures Roatan for including us in this spectacular experience.
People ask us, “Would you do it again?”
Laurie Norton, Taco Girl, was on the other catamaran and wrote a terrific blog about what they experienced during the crossing. She included an excellent video of the sail as well as Captain Kendall’s “official” Captain’s Log of the overnight crossing. Please click here to check it out! You’ll love the video and Captain Kendall’s log – we promise! They covered lots of things that we missed.